Selcuk's sights unveil themselves

Trip Start Nov 09, 2007
Trip End Feb 03, 2008

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Saturday, December 1, 2007

We had a very full agenda today, first to visit The Virgin Mary's house, then to see Ephesus and see what else we could fit in. The guys at Jimmy's place gave us some advice on the best way to see the sights. One piece of advice was particularly useful.
'If you get to the Ephesus car park and someone offers to drive you to the top gate' Adam, Jimmy's brother told us 'avoid them. They will not take you directly to the top gate but will take you on a shopping trip.' Sure enough this is exactly what we encountered and the fellow at the bottom gate who told us he 'worked for Ephesus' was amazed and astounded when we said we didn't want to take up his offer to get into his really beat-up van.
'Really!?!' he said. 'You know it's a 3 hour walk to get back out.' We knew, in fact, because Adam had told us, that it was only a 10 minute walk to get from the bottom gate to the top gate if you didn't stop to explore the ruins.
'No thanks' we said. We drove then to the Virgin Mary's house. This is allegedly the house where Jesus' mother Mary lived out the end of her days. There appears to be reasonable evidence to suggest that Mary did retire to Ephesus, but the exact location of this house was based on a vision that a German nun had around 200 years ago. In any event I guess it's more for pilgrims than for the likes of us. We found it expensive to get in, very tacky in its presentation and there really is nothing there except a very small house to look through. The girls were interested in the notes that people had left as prayers or requests to the Virgin Mary. Unless you are a pretty devout sort of person I'd give this a miss.
We then went down to Ephesus, which has some very well preserved ruins, and was clearly a big deal in its day. You can read the link for more info. We spent a couple of hours wandering around in the ruins imagining life 2000 or more years ago.
On the way out of Ephesus we stopped at the 'Grotto of the seven sleepers'. This was clearly not on the tour group map as there was no one else there but is only about 500m from the main gate to Ephesus. We all agreed that we preferred this small site to Ephesus, but that's probably our anti-tour-group bias coming out. The girls were very interested to hear the story of the 7 men who, in a bid to avoid persecution as Christians in Ephesus, hid out in a nearby cave and ended up sleeping for 200 years, only to wake up and find that Ephesus was now a Christian town.
After Ephesus we had some lunch back in Selcuk and then visited the Isabey Mosque and the Church of St Jean (John), which is a ruin and holds a commanding place above Selcuk centre. We found this site intriguing too.
By this time evening was descending and we took a drive about 8km down the road to visit the coast near Selcuk to see out the last of the day. There is quite a nice beach here actually, called Pamucak. Unfortunately when we drove along the coast a bit we discovered a number of very high rise hotels have been built here, as well as a couple of aqua parks.
The girls played in the sand and we ate fresh oranges that we had bought from a roadside stall for about 5 cents each.
We drove back to Selcuk and parked the car near our hotel, but up the street a bit, because the local market will be set up outside our hotel in the morning. We strolled back into town (we seem to do a lot of strolling and meandering don't we? I guess that's what holidays are all about...) and searched for somewhere to eat. We got very lucky because we found a place that served very nice food at very low prices. It was full of groups of Turkish men all eating together so we guessed that we had chosen well. The meal was great and then we went next door for ice-cream for dessert (yum!) then back to the hotel.
When we entered Jimmy was very glad to see us and keen to show us his carpets. Given that we are now pretty fixed up for carpets we really only wanted to look at some 'open camel bags'. These are interesting pieces that you can find in most rug shops, but Jess had had her eye on them for a while. We found the one we wanted and Jimmy promised he would give us a low price because he is shutting the shop in April. We told him our maximum price and he said we could have it for that, so everyone was happy.
Time to sign off - early start and a drive tomorrow.
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